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  • Rushmi Rosairo

Digital Friday>>> The West in Trouble of Having Major Cyber-Attacks?

Updated: Mar 25, 2022

Picture Credit: Financial Times website

Russia has made quite a name for itself as being a cyber-superpower, and with Russia’s war going on with Ukraine, experts fear that Russia might target Ukraine’s allies.

With an impressive arsenal of cyber-tools and accomplished hackers, Russia has shown what it's capable of. A clear example of that, is the cyber-attack on Ukraine’s power grid in 2015 using a “BlackEnergy malware” which resulted in a blackout for several hours, affecting around 80,000 households. The NotPetya cyber-attack back in 2017 has been thought to be the costliest a-cyber-attack ever. The attack said to be orchestrated by a group of Russian military hackers according to US, UK, and EU authorities, was the cause of approximately $10 billion worth of damage. Russia has extensive experience in this field, often through its apparent network of cyber-criminal gangs.

Experts believe the most likely targets would be critical infrastructure such as energy and possibly financial infrastructure in Europe and the U.S, as retaliation for the economic sanctions that were put into place.

"They're obviously quite busy right now, prosecuting the war in Ukraine, I don't think they're interested in further escalating the fight and having a cyber tit-for-tat with the West until they get Ukraine more under control, but as soon as they start accomplishing their military objectives on the ground in Ukraine, they may revert back to looking at the West,” stated leading cybersecurity analyst, Dmitri Alperovitch. Alperovitch was among the first to predict Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Just last week, Israel announced that several government websites going down while experiencing “one of the largest cyber-attacks in history”. That’s not the only attack which happened recently, tens of thousands of internet users were unable to connect after finding that their connection has disappeared. Thousands of wind turbines in Germany have been forced offline as well. Could this be the start of Russia’s retaliation?

US President Joe Biden has claimed intelligence suggests that Russia is planning a cyber-attack on the US. Private companies and organisations have been entreated to “lock their digital doors”.

Picture Credit: Global Times website

The nature of cyber-attacks can be described as extremely unpredictable in reality; on February the 24th, just a few hours before Russia’s invasion, substantial parts of a network of high-speed satellite services operated by Viasat, an American company went down. This was the result of an attack apparently aimed at Ukrainian military communications by Russia, although, purposefully or not, other countries were affected. So that shows how unpredictable and easily out of hand these cyber-attacks can get.

Are these cyber-attacks just a passing annoyance? Or is the west in some real trouble?

March 25th 2022 | 9:45 PM

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